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Muslim Americans on edge
March 27th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

In key American Muslim enclave, alienation is growing

Editor’s note: The original version of this story omitted the fact that the attorney for Roger Stockham, who was charged with making terrorist threats against a Dearborn mosque, says his client is a Muslim convert.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Madison Heights, Michigan (CNN) - Dawud Walid asked the worshipers for a show of hands: How many had heard about the Muslim radicalization hearings in Washington earlier that day?

About half of the 50 or so Muslims in the banquet hall-turned-mosque indicated that they had.

So Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter, briefed the other half about the hearing, calling it an “unfortunate first in American history.”

Then he went further, warning about what he said were a handful of growing threats to American Muslims.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of September 11, we are seeing unprecedented acts of Islamophobia,” Walid told the worshipers at the American Islamic Community Center, 10 miles north of Detroit.

“After 9/11, it was coming from a few right-wingers,” he said. “But now, in 2011, we’re seeing it from Congress.”

Walid went on to tell the congregation that a dozen states - from Georgia to Missouri to New Mexico - are considering bans on Sharia, or Islamic law, and warned that such bans could lead to prohibitions on women wearing the hijab, or headscarf, and even on Muslims worshiping Allah.

“Praying five times a day is Sharia,” he said. “Do you go to jail for that?”

As one of the largest and oldest Muslim enclaves in the nation - and, with its century-old ties to Ford Motor Co., one that’s intimately bound up in the modern American story - the metro Detroit community is perhaps as close as one can get to the soul of American Islam.

At a time when the country is wrestling with its views on Islam, the faith causes relatively little friction in the largely Arab cocoon of southeast Michigan.

But narratives playing out in the national media, from the radicalization hearings spearheaded by New York Republican Rep. Peter King to the wave of proposed Sharia bans to anticipation of the September 11 anniversary, have left many Muslims here feeling ostracized in their own country.

The community is growing more defensive in the face of what many here say is a national climate of suspicion reminiscent of the period immediately after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In response to what he called “a spike in anti-Muslim bigotry,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is holding a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing Tuesday on “measures to protect the rights of American Muslims.”

Witnesses will include Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - the former archbishop of Washington - and the top civil rights officials from the administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

On this Thursday night, however, worshipers at the American Islamic Community Center echoed the embattled tone of the guest speaker from Center for American-Islamic Relations.

Hadir Ghazala, a 49-year-old Iraqi immigrant in a black-and-white polka-dot hijab, said she’d been turned down for jobs at local salons because she refused to remove her headscarf.

Mohammed Elzhemni, 39, bemoaned what he called a growing national stereotype of Muslims as terrorists.

“These people raise their families and work hard,” he said, gesturing to a cluster of small children chasing each other across the mosque’s faux marble floor. “I’m a manager at GM and work to make the country better. This is the true face of Islam.”

At a time when King and others are alleging that radical American Muslims pose an under-acknowledged threat to national security, a popular refrain among Detroit-area Muslims is that they’re the ones under attack.

The sentiment is especially acute at the Islamic Center of America, which calls itself the nation’s largest mosque.

This year, police said they thwarted an explosives attack on the house of worship in Dearborn, just west of Detroit city limits. In January, police arrested a man in the center’s parking lot in a car they said was packed with fireworks.

Police said the suspect, Roger Stockham, drove to Dearborn from California. He faces two felony charges carrying maximum sentences of up to 20 years.

The arrest provoked state and local law enforcement agencies to urge the 70,000-square-foot mosque to bolster security and develop a new emergency response plan.

“We’ve never had an incident like that, where we were targeted by someone who wanted to do us harm based on who we are,” said Kassem Allie, the center’s executive administrator.

To Allie, the incident is evidence that some Americans are being radicalized against Islam, turning the allegation of growing Muslim radicalization on its head.

“The suspect was apparently radicalized quite some time ago,” Allie said. “And there are other instances of radicalization that are of great concern to us.

“I have no problem addressing Islamic radicalization,” he said, monitoring the mosque's security cameras from a computer screen in his ground-floor office. “But there should be an acknowledgment that other communities have the same problem.”

Indeed, a common complaint around Dearborn, the epicenter of southeast Michigan’s Muslim community, is that the only time religion is mentioned in a crime story is when the suspect is Muslim.

“When Timothy McVeigh did his bombing, we didn’t investigate or blame Christianity,” said Al Machy, 32, referring to the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City that left 168 dead.

Machy works behind the counter at the Golden Bakery on Warren Avenue, a miles-long Dearborn strip lined with halal butchers, hookah bars, Lebanese restaurants and locally owned groceries with names like Baghdad Market and Sahara West. Signs for most businesses are in Arabic.

“Every day, there are hundreds of rapes and murders, and they never put the words 'Christian' or 'Jewish' in the story,” said Machy, an Iraqi refugee who arrived in the U.S. after the Gulf War.

Unlike most such crimes, in which religion doesn’t appear to be an issue, recent instances of homegrown terrorism - such as 2009’s Fort Hood shooting and last year’s failed Times Square bomb plot - were allegedly carried out in the name of Islam.

But many Muslims around Dearborn say those cases garner inordinate news attention while recent attacks against Muslim Americans, including the defacing and burning of mosques, are largely neglected.

According to the Justice Department, there were 107 anti-Muslim hate-crime incidents in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, compared with 28 such incidents in 2000.

After a sharp spike in 2001, when there were 481 anti-Muslim hate crime incidents, there have since been fewer than 200 such incidents annually, though there were generally fewer than 50 in the years before 2001.

Muslim advocacy groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, say they have seen a more recent uptick in anti-Muslim threats and violence.

Officials at the Islamic Center of America, which draws about 1,200 worshipers for Friday prayers, say local law enforcement encouraged them to take a low-key public stance on the January explosives arrest. Authorities wanted to avoid inspiring copycat attacks or reprisals, mosque officials said.

The mosque issued a news release after the suspect’s arrest but limited its interviews with the media. Chuck Alawan, 80, a founding board member of the mosque, has some regrets about the mosque keeping relatively quiet about the incident.

“You never hear about all the threats against mosques,” Alawan said in the thick Midwestern accent of a lifelong Michigan resident.

“I was born in this country, and I have never felt persecuted,” he said. “But it’s getting close to that.”

As Alawan spoke, a surveyor from the Michigan Department of Transportation was setting up equipment on the mosque’s lawn as part of a “vulnerability study” after the January incident.

Last week, the Islamic Center of America learned that the Florida pastor who triggered an international firestorm last year by threatening to burn the Quran would take part in an April protest at the mosque.

The protest against "Sharia and Jihad" is scheduled for Good Friday, two days before Easter.

"It is necessary that we set very clear lines for Muslims that are here in America,” Terry Jones, the Florida pastor, said in a statement Wednesday announcing his plans to protest at the Dearborn mosque. "If they desire to change our Constitution, in other words to institute Sharia, then these Muslims are no longer welcome in our country."

Officials at the Islamic Center of America are still deciding how to respond, though they are leaning toward a Good Friday counter-event that would bring together religious leaders of different backgrounds to encourage tolerance and interfaith dialogue.

"For us to try to fight fire with fire like in this case - to fight hate with hate - is really unproductive and actually destructive," said Allie, the mosque's executive administrator. "Under different circumstances, we'd welcome a dialogue with Terry Jones or other detractors, but it's got to be civilized."

Developments like the mosque protest have some local law enforcement officials sympathizing with growing Muslim anxiety.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad is among them. He estimates that he has received 10,000 anti-Muslim “hate e-mails,” some calling him a “Taliban police chief” or alleging that he’s persecuting Christians.

The senders assume he’s Muslim because of his last name, Haddad says, even though he’s a Christian of Lebanese descent.

Like Alawan and Haddad, many Arab-Americans in the area trace their local roots back generations. The first big wave of Middle Easterners arrived in southeast Michigan around 1910 to man Henry Ford’s automobile plants in Highland Park and Dearborn.

Those immigrants were mostly Christians from the area that is now Lebanon but was then part of the Ottoman Empire.

“Ford seemed to think that that this particular segment of the empire was industrious and productive and a good source of cheap labor,” said Saeed Khan, a lecturer in Islamic history, politics and culture at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Khan said Ford also favored immigrants from that region because, unlike some other groups, they tended to be light-skinned.

After the defeated Ottoman Empire was carved up at the end of World War I, Christians were given favored status in the newly created Lebanon, provoking more Muslims to exit the region. Some wound up in new Arab strongholds like metro Detroit.

“Especially after Henry Ford announced the $5 workday, (immigrants) would get off the train in Detroit looking for work, and police would pick them up and take them to Ford’s Rouge plant to apply,” Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly said, referring to a huge Dearborn manufacturing facility that opened in the 1920s.

Today, southeast Michigan’s Muslim population is estimated at nearly half a million, Khan said. Though there are larger Muslim populations in New York and Southern California, there are few places in the country with such a heavy concentration of Muslims.

“Once Henry Ford established that community, it had a pull effect and became an epicenter of Arab life,” Khan said. “It was influenced by employment opportunities and the availability of resources like mosques and schools.”

Though Dearborn retains its Lebanese flavor, the area’s Muslim community includes many immigrants from India, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, along with a growing Eastern European contingent and many African-Americans.

The historic Muslim presence here helps explain why local allegations of Islamophobia are pretty rare - and why Haddad, the police chief, suspects that most of his anti-Muslim e-mail is from outsiders.

Zeinab Dbouk-Chaayto, a recent immigrant from Lebanon, says that she was the only woman donning a hijab when she took classes recently at Madonna University, a Catholic school in Livonia, just west of Dearborn, but that no one gave her any trouble.

The school’s conservative culture jibed with her Muslim values. “There’s no partying and no alcohol,” she said, adding that administrators in a school office where she worked even threw her a baby shower and a birthday party.

Local law enforcement officials, for their part, say they strengthened ties to greater Detroit’s Muslim leadership after September 11, launching a program called Bridges to create an ongoing dialogue between those leaders and the FBI, state and local law enforcement, and other government agencies.

“Sometimes, there’s a relative who feels that someone in the family might be doing things that probably aren’t in the long-term best interest of the country, and they want to bring that forward,” said O’Reilly, the Dearborn mayor, explaining the program.

“But they don’t want to be responsible for throwing a family member in jail,” he said. “There’s a delicacy to that, so they have a dialogue about where people can bring this stuff forward.”

Haddad, the Dearborn police chief, said the Bridges program helped create a parents’ task force to combat gang activity in the city’s Yemeni community. That move contributed to an 11% drop in crime in the heavily Yemeni South End neighborhood last year, he said.

At the same time, many Muslims around Dearborn are convinced that they are under government surveillance, exacerbating feelings of alienation.

Sitting with friends at the Islamic Center of America, Alawan says, they often joke that law enforcement has the mosque’s phones tapped and its rooms bugged.

“The agencies will deny it,” he said. “But we know they’re doing it.”

The suspicion was given credence after FBI agents killed a Muslim cleric in an October 2009 raid in Dearborn.

The charges against the imam, Luqman Ameen Abdullah - which included mail fraud and the illegal possession and sale of firearms - were based on information from three confidential FBI informants who’d infiltrated Abdullah’s mosque.

The case raised the specter of government spies in other Dearborn area mosques and prompted a 2010 letter of protest from Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“People of all faiths should be free to worship without undue fear that the person in the next pew is a government agent,” Conyers wrote, invoking the FBI’s wiretapping of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a regrettable precedent for such surveillance.

Many Muslims around Dearborn find it ironic that what they see as a growing suspicion of Muslims in America comes at a time when much of the Arab world, from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, is rising up against despotic leaders and demanding more U.S.-style freedoms.

“While the Islamic world is rising up against dictatorship, dishonesty, deception and corruption … America should show solidarity with people who are looking for dignity and democracy,” Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi told hundreds of worshipers at recent Friday prayers at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, a mosque situated across the street from Henry Ford Community College.

“That’s not the right time to bring another wave of Islamophobia and ignorance,” he said, blasting the King hearings of the previous day. “It is so dangerous to provoke people who are ready to commit hate crimes with this kind of wrong information.”

Elahi wasn’t referring to the danger of inciting Muslim radicals to commit terrorism against the United States. The threat, in his eyes, is that Americans will be provoked to terrorize Muslims.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Michigan • Muslim

soundoff (3,082 Responses)
  1. What?

    WHAT MUSLIMS ARE DOING IN EUROPE THEY WILL DO IN AMERICA. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE AN EXCEPTION FOR US.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  2. Kris

    Joe Brandon is one of the biggest idiots I’ve ever heard. His unbelievable ignorance is an embarrassment to me, and should be to most educated Americans. To question Islam as a religion, and use it as a reason to stop the progress on the mosque is ridiculous. I rate him on the same level as the so called Christians that protest at fallen Soldiers’ funerals. I think we should send them and their supporters to Afghanistan, with Mr. Brandon leading the charge, and save the lives of our troops.

    I was raised Christian, and taught from an early age that it is not my place to judge others. These people shown on the show-claiming to be Christian- should have learned the same. The hatred that they preach is in direct conflict with what the bible teaches, which makes them no better than the extremist Muslims. There are extremists everywhere in the world that claim they are acting in the name of religion, whether it be Islam, Christianity, or Judaism. All are equally guilty if they use violence and hate. In addition, the hate that they preach is based off cultural and political agendas, not true religion.

    How soon we forget that the pilgrims made the journey here to enjoy religious freedom. Now, as Americans we are persecuting the Muslims as the English did our forefathers. Not to mention it was less than a century ago that the blacks had to fight for the same rights that the Muslims are now fighting for in America. To see that a black man is one of the leaders of this crusade is very disappointing. Perhaps he should look back at the actions of Martin Luther King, whom I am sure he idolizes. Dr. King’s actions, along with many other civil rights leaders [of all color, ethnicity, and religion] were obviously made in vain since America has still not learned.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Red

      I totally agree with you. There are two sides to this. extremists, who are not only ignorant and believe in hate violence and bigotry. It doesn't matter whether you are christian, muslim, or jewish. If your an extremist, you are a problem. On the other hand there are those (muslims, christians, and jews included) who believe in tolerance, peace, unity, and respect. Choose which side your on. People must strive to understand each other. Im muslim and I have been living with a devout christian for 2 years now. He is like brother to me. Enough with all of this....

      March 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  3. agostic thiesm

    How come the lawyers for the Muslims bring up all the women that get beat by thier christian and jewish husbands and boyfriends in America? Go to any battered woman shelter and see what the percentage is. I will bet you very few American Muslims. Everyone in this country should be under our country's laws first. I do not know why CNN didn't put the biggots names underneath the(BIGGOTS) every time the spewed hatred so intelligent, educated, rational people can blast thier facebook, twitter, adresses, and phone numbers from all over the world. Witchburning was banned centuries ago, oh yeh that was the Christians also.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  4. Arnatheist

    As an atheist I would love if CNN would spend an hour on the way America treats its truly, most distrusted minority (double negative untended) and investigate the perception of atheists, particularly those of us in the south.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  5. DocHolliday

    You see filth passed off as "art" in the form of crucifixes bottled in urine, feces portraits of the Virgin Mary, but you don't hear about Chrisitians trying to kill artists and newspaper cartoonists for offensive cartoons. Religion of peace – please.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  6. vanhoopcoach

    I find it hard to think that only 26% of people surveyed really would accept a mosque in their town.
    There will come a time when the followers of the Muslim faith will fight and lose their holy-war in a big way.
    Following a religion that terrorizes their female populace, much less any actual reading and understanding of their 'good book' justifies the mindset of the people in Tenn who are standing up for an American belief.
    It's honestly not very hard to see the radical arm being the only arm, the arm with power and finance to plan and carry out their true intentions.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  7. Michael Gordon Knight

    It's MurFREEsboro, people. Tell your reporter to get the name of the city and its pronunciation correct, please. Good grief...

    March 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  8. Mohamed

    once upon a time it was wrong to be a jew, then it was wrong to be black, and now it is wrong to be muslim,
    when will the human race learn from its past and understand that hate against any other human being is wrong. If you subscribe to that thought of it is ok to discriminate against other people history tells us it will soon be you who is discriminated against.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • vanhoopcoach

      Neither Jewish nor African Americans used 'faith' to kill millions of others who didn't agree with who they were.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • someone

      @vanhoopcoach

      correct, but Christians have done that quite a bit. The holy crusade ringing any bells, or did they stop teaching that in Texas? If not bloody Mary is another great example, or the Salem Witch trails, or maybe the KKK. But hey those don't really count right?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • dan

      @vanhoopcoach
      "Neither Jewish nor African Americans used 'faith' to kill millions of others who didn't agree with who they were."

      so the crusades were ok then? ya. maybe educate yourself first then speak.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • 26009

      If it's so wrong to hate in your religion how come your religion hates Amercia and American's enough to attack us the kill 3000 people

      March 27, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  9. Chris

    No religious law over rules the american law so what i saw tonight in the court was the right decision by the judge.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  10. Ayah

    It amazes me of how ignorant some people are in this world. It'a pathetic! And this is coming from a 16 year old.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I'm afraid I have some sad news for you... many of them vote...

      (Even more bad news: as you grow older, you'll run into even more ignorant people...)

      March 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  11. Cute Lunatic

    I am now confused. After learning that the new mosque will be 52,000 sq. ft. I would be worried too. I think that is too ambitious for the size of their congregation.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      The mosque (prayer area) is going to be 10,000 sq feet, there will also be a school, a gym, a swimming pool and a cemetary

      March 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  12. Workingman

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXY4LsK28IY&w=640&h=360]

    March 27, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Bob Smith

      This video is nuttier than a squirrel's nest

      March 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • someone

      Haha Be careful the Muslims are going to sweet talk you with rational thoughts into believing religious equality. Then they will kill everyone you cherish!!!

      March 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  13. John

    Let me guess...Murfreesboro, Tn lies in a mainly Republican county populated by right-wing christian, Republican zealots that insist they are not bigots. They hide behind their christian beliefs but conveniently forget that portion of their religion that asks them to be tolerant and love thy neighbor. Is that about right?

    March 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  14. Noor

    Last time I checked, America wasn't only built or established for Americans only. The reason why British people moved to America back in the day was to get religious freedom, exactly what Muslims did also. Many other things happened, or are happening, around the world and this is what catches everyone's eye? This is pretty stupid, in my opinion, and many other Muslims that I know. We are all people, why is it that only Muslims are critisized but other religions located America are left alone without critisizm? This is all a stereotype of Muslims, we are not terrorists, so leave us alone, we're not bothering any of you people, so why bother us, when we're all living in peace and unity?

    March 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • vanhoopcoach

      Noor,
      Leaving us alone is not going to happen.
      Not because of hate,but, because America does not want the baggage that comes with your faith.
      Why would you want to live in a nation of people who see and hate what the lone forceful arm of your faith stands for?
      Europe has already started to figure this out.
      Look at how even Sweden has responded to the faith because of what this forceful arm intends for and has done to our nation.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Noor

      What baggage?
      Every religion has their own freedom, so why hate on Islam?
      America is the country of the free.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • stevefnp1

      The reason other religions are mainly left alone is because they mainly leave other religions alone. I assume you are talking about christianity in general as taking issue with islam in particular. Islam may or may not have perpetrated incidents in your little town city of mufreesboro but your religion is connected with most of the terrorism in the world and that track record shows that other countries welcomed the so called peaceful muslims who either remained silent or who become willing participants for terrorism recruitment in other countries like europe and england france sweden ,etc etc etc. including the u.s. where many incidents too numerous to list have been connected to islam the peaceful religion. Your rights as americans do not include being considered peaceful when your politico-relgion associates with organizations and fundamentalist radicalism that has committed terrorist acts dangerous to american freedom. and lives.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  15. illuminated Genius

    http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/Yyq3rRCkCvk?fs=1&hl=en_US

    March 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  16. RC

    The report was very informative however the interviewer showed to much empathy for the Muslim people. This is a very controversial issue for all Americans and I believe that she (reporter) should not wear her emotion and disgust on her sleeve. Your job is not to take sides but to disseminate information so that the viewers can make up their own minds.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • 26009

      Rc. very well put but if you have watched any of Soledad O’Brien's specials she is always the same. She is a bigot with a reports badge.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  17. illuminated Genius

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyq3rRCkCvk&w=640&h=360]

    March 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  18. mary

    Great job, CNN! I cant' believe those that oppose it live in 21st century. It's very sad to watch people's ignorance that is caused by lack of education. I am glad that the center was allowed to be built. Those that spoke for it are clearly EDUCATED. I did not expect that African-American guy to be against it-he forgot how his people felt while oppressed. People that love America should love it's diversity! We are so blessed to be able to express ourselves!

    March 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Bethe123

      ". It's very sad to watch people's ignorance that is caused by lack of education." - as opposed to the ignorance caused by education (LOL)
      Those who disagree with you are not necessarily ignorant nor uneducated...Islam is the most vile religion currently being practiced.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • 26009

      Why do 250 families need a 53,000 sf center and who are they getting the money from. If they like the community so much whats wrong with sending their kids to the schools there, why do they need their own school. What are they going to teach their children that they can't learn in a local school. Hate for America is the first thing that comes to mind, just as they do in the other Middle east countries.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • 26009

      The "black guy" as you so rudely put it is against the center being pushed through by the city council without publishing it before hand. I live in a very small town and even here any new construction is published in the paper for public comment. That's what he's fighting against. The law of their state was broken. He is also concerned that it will be used to train home grown terrorists. I have the same question. What are they going to teach in such a huge center.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Ayah

      @ 26009

      Why are there Catholic schools? or Zionist schools? Obviously in this center Muslims can be taught the practices of their religion which cannot be taught "in any other school".

      IGNORANCE IS A KILLER.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • 26009

      Ayah, I am from a Catholic school but then my religion didn't attack my country. We, as Catholics, mingled with all religions in town. We did not keep ourselves separate. I am a train medical professional. Watch who you are calling ignorant Buster!! My family has been in this country since BEFORE the Declaration of Independence. Islam attacked this country and now it is training it's members to attack us within our borders. Those are the fact Ayah. I don't mean to offend but facing the facts is the only way to deal with what is going on here and protect ourselves.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  19. marshall

    I am so disappointed in Soledad and CNN. This show was so bias, pro muslim and then amateurish too. How one sided can you be.....then you show this at the same time 1000s of Christians are fleeing their town where 50 churches were burnt to the ground in Ethiopia, reported by many soucres but not CNN. CNN use to be number one when I was young, now it spends its days looking at the back of FOXNEWS and others because it is just too bias, and it has lost its legitimacy.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • stevefnp1

      Everybody knows soledad sides with minorities because big surprise she is one. She's one who has legitimized an american as a minority making it big and so she appeases the other view so to speak but she like most at her level of success can hide from the every day experiences of those of us subject to the usual life in america-you know the ones who get interviewed in shows like this. I think the program was one sided in showing just one city. She should have shown more pictures of troublemaking islamists in europe and england and other countries. Everywhere they go the silent majority who sit by and allow it are infiltrated and recruited by radicals and that's what will likely happen in mufreesboro despite all the naive who deny it. Their so called religion is too wrapped in politics to have it be any other way. They are not assimilating to america over sharia and they claim they understand americans fear but they want to go ahead and do what they want anyway. Its time for americans to stand up as the people are doing in this great country of america and continue to do so for our freedoms are in jeopardy and indeed our very lives.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • vanhoopcoach

      Marshall...+1

      March 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • dan

      you mentioned ethiopia, this is america we are talking about. and there is plenty of anti islam articles on cnn. about time they put up a pro islam article.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  20. Scott

    Yes, I'm absolutely against having the Muslims build their Mosque's in this country. As a Native American, I feel that the Muslims were "not" the key aggressors that conquered my people and have no authorization to build upon these lands. Their is already too much bias allowing Christians special rights (such as having their churches be tax exempt), and building upon this for the Muslims is just further insult! I have no problem with either Christians or Muslims practicing "their" religions, but "not" where they have taken over by force without the honest will of the natives!

    March 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Ayah

      I just took the Contemporary Aboriginal English course in school and have studied YOUR beliefs. It is funny how the most important beliefs of your people are around the idea of good relationships between people. It is about the love and family and faith. The message you just sent contradicts your beliefs sir. May I remind you who took over your land? And just one question, have you had any encounter with a Muslim? You have to look past the false stereotypes and prejudice of my religion and treat ALL people equally. Which leads to what you are arguing. On what basis do you think that Muslims should not be ALLOWED to build a place of worship on your land, while other religions can?

      ignorance is a killer.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Leslie

      I am a Native American (Sante Sioux) AND a convert to Islam. As someone who is more native to this land than most, I have every right to practice my faith. Islam is SO misunderstood. People think the opposite of what Islam is really about. I wish more Americans would educate themselves on this. Go to a mosque open house or talk to a Muslim and as them what it is all about!

      March 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • marleen

      I agree with you Scott, Cnn is bias and I think that the Natve Indians shoud speak up before they take over the land. One thing I don't understant why CNN did not ask where the real money came from to build the mosque, it had to be more than fund raising for thoise pepole, I believe that they were given money from the Saudis and all the muslims in the middle east, it does not make sense how they paid the land in cash, dont trust thest muslims and this country is in great danger in the future, you give a piece to them and the next thiung they will take it all away from us. how dare they come in after the 911 and we let them be more stronger, don't understand why the lawmakers don't see it, are they being paid under the table to let this happen? Be aware America!!

      March 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • 26009

      Ayah, 3000 people were killed in the name of your religion. Did you hear any outcry from Muslims or did you hear them crying out that they were going to be accused. Which is exactly what your religion did to this country. We don't trust you. Talk all you like but deal with the fact that we just don't trust you or what your religion teaches.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.